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TITLE The Human Voice: History and Theory of Vocal Art

LEVEL H - Higher Level


DEPARTMENT Centre for the Liberal Arts and Sciences

DESCRIPTION From the first air coming into the lungs of a newborn, human beings use their voice in everyday life – we talk, we sing, we hum, we argue, we cry with joy and happiness or with pain and desperation. Teachers at school, politicians, classical singers, pop/rock and jazz all use their voice to convey different messages. This Unit will concentrate on vocalization from prehistorical to contemporary use.

This Unit will first provide an overview of key terms, concepts and terminology in singing as well as more detailed information about the history of the art of classical singing technique and the personalities behind it: Italian castrati, belcanto technique and different vocal schools in Europe.

Debates which this Unit will then consider and analyse include the different ways in which communication through voice occurs, how voice is produced, how voice is taken care of and healed, and how many different types of voices and classifications exist. This Unit will evaluate the different techniques, schools of thought, genres and styles concerning voice, and compare and contrast the multiple views on the topic.

This part of the Unit is aimed to create an opportunity to enhance the interest and appreciation of music and singing in general, and to investigate deeper how different voices sing opera, operetta, art songs, musicals, folklore, jazz, modern rock and pop Reference will be made to contemporary vocal methodology and pedagogy based on the physiology of the nervous system. Some lectures will also introduce the students to their own voices, learning how to improve them and discover new ways of communication. Students will also be given the chance to discover their voice in a more professional way.

The overall aims and intentions of the Unit are to introduce students to key moments, movements, terminology, personalities and ideas in human vocalization and situate these within the broader historical and theoretical context. The Unit is of interest to everyone who loves and uses the human voice, recommended to those who are curious about the subject and highly recommended for professional and/or amateur classical or pop singers, actors or teachers.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge of the history of vocalization and vocal art;
- Demonstrate understanding of basic terminology in music in particularly singing;
- Analyse the history of the teaching methods and vocal schools of the last centuries. To know the main epochs and directions in the evolution of the vocal schools and vocal art in general;
- Analyse vocal categories and range;
- Discuss the art of singing more and manifest a broader knowledge of the history of singing and the use of voice in different eras, styles, and genres;
- Understand the anatomy and the work of the human body in singing, including his/her own voice;
- Discuss the hygiene of speech and singing voice; and
- Explain the singing aparatus from the point of view of the contemporary science.

2. Skills:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:
- Understand the human voice and different types of singing;
- Make difference in voice types;
- Understand the art of singing in different genres;
- Appreciate and differentiate the characteristics of the art of song, opera, operetta, musical, pop/rock and jazz;
- Distinguish the good quality of singing and vocalization and build up a good taste in choosing a performance and style to listen or to attend;
- Know use his/her voice better and keep a healthier voice hygiene;
- Use their speech and/or singing voice better through personal experience during the course;
- Build up interest and understanding of the role of the human voice in different parts of our life; and
- See and understand facts, events, phenomena, in the wide historical and cultural context.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Demarco, L. E., ‘The Fact of the Castrato and the Myth of the Countertenor’, The Musical Quarterly, 2002, Vol.86(1), pp.174-185.
- Kawahara, H.; Morise, M., ‘Analysis and synthesis of strong vocal expressions: Extension and application of audio texture features to singing voice’, 2012 IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing, March 2012, pp.5389-5392.
- Lani, J., ‘Bel Canto and the Art of Singing’, Opera Journal, Sep 2003, Vol.36 (3-4), pp.3-36.
- Yan, N. ; Xue, S. A.; Man, M. K., ‘Vocal tract dimensional characteristics of professional female singers with different types of singing voices’, 2011 4th International Conference on Biomedical Engineering and Informatics, Oct. 2011, Vol.3, pp.1549-1552.

Supplementary Readings:

- Causey, T., ‘Voice Technique for Musical Theatre Singers’, Stage Directions, Mar 2012, Vol.25(3), pp.26-31.
- Freitas, R. F., ‘The Eroticism of Emasculation: Confronting the Baroque Body of the Castrato’, The Journal of Musicology, 2003, Vol.20(2), pp.196-249.
- Jones, S., ‘Reading between the Lines: Reflections on the Massive Anthology of Folk Music of the Chinese - Peoples’, Ethnomusicology: Journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology, 2003 Fall, Vol.47(3), pp.287-337.
- Lamarche, A.; Ternström, S.; Pabon, P., ‘The Singer's Voice Range Profile: Female Professional Opera Soloists’, Journal of Voice, 2010, Vol.24(4), pp.410-426.
- Larrouy-Maestri, P.; Magis, D.; Morsomme, D., ‘Effects of Melody and Technique on Acoustical and Musical Features of Western Operatic Singing Voices’, Journal of Voice, May 2014, Vol.28(3), pp.332-340.
- Manen, L., Belcanto: the teaching of the classical Italian song-schools, its decline and restoration, 1987.
- Parker, D. L., ‘Golden Voices, Silver Screen Opera Singers as Movie Stars’, The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress, 1 July 1980, Vol.37(3/4), pp.370-386.
- Potter, J. T., ‘The tenor-castrato connection, 1760-1860’, Early Music, 2007, Vol.35(1), pp.97-110.
- Spring, K., ‘"To Sustain Illusion is All That is Necessary": The Authenticity of Song Performance in Early American Sound Cinema’, Film History, 2011, Vol.23(3), pp.285-299.
- Termini, O., ‘Singers at San Marco in Venice: The Competition between Church and Theatre (c1675 - c1725)’, Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, 1 January 1981, Issue 17, pp.65-96.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Placement and Practicum

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation No 25%
Assignment Yes 75%

LECTURER/S Andriana Yordanova

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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